Making empathy the priority

Empathy in Action: How to Deliver Great Customer Experiences at Scale
Authors: Tony Bates & Dr. Natalie Petouhoff
Publisher: Ideapress Publishing
Pages: 338

The Scriptures speak of rejoicing in the truth. What the authors say about empathy rings true and resonates deeply. It is a desire fulfilled for someone like me who yearns for more satisfying relationships in the workplace. Page after page is filled with wisdom.

True caring is often in short supply in employment situations. A preoccupation with efficiency and profitability leaves employees and customers less than satisfied. Even if ultimate fulfillment in work cannot be found in this life, this book gives me hope for a better future where the well being of employees and customers isn’t just an afterthought.

As the owner of a small business; emphasis intentional as in one person operation. One challenge is to apply what I can even though this is written for large companies. Perhaps this is a minor weakness but I think it’s possible for small operations to glean from the ideas and benefit.

One difficulty is that there are fewer choices in smaller communities. If you have a bad experience somewhere, you may not have many options to go elsewhere, though that has changed somewhat with the popularity of internet shopping. Those who have less resources and lack incentive to change may think that they can get buy with the status quo but the authors make it clear that this kind of thinking will cause companies to fall behind their competitors and lead to their demise.

So how do the authors define empathy, which is the cornerstone of this work? For their purposes it is, “The act of a company putting themselves in the shoes of their customers and employees to reorient the way they make decisions and conduct business, resulting in amazing customer/employee-centric experiences” (15). Again, I find this approach and all the practical considerations that it entails so refreshing. Just reading about it is inspiring!

Just the other day I listened to two former employees of a local business talk about their history with the company. The environment was so toxic that the both quit at different times and neither of them have ever set foot in that store again. In fact both admitted that they have not been employed by a business since that time. Both were traumatized and years later are still not over it. The ideas and approach in this book greatly reduce the likelihood of this kind of abuse.

Small boxes of text that adorn many of these pages are filled with blindspots! “A blind spot is something that you don’t know you don’t know” (21). Recognizing them helps leaders to rethink how they do things. This insight and help is a welcome feature in this book. It calls attention to the main ideas summarizing them in just a few lines. They also make use of figures so that readers have a visual to reinforce the main points. I like the layout and aesthetics, which are more inviting that just having text on page. Black, white and orange in keeping with the colors on the dust jacket are scattered throughout.

The writing is engaging and the meaning clear. Even if some of this might seem overwhelming the authors succeed in providing a vision that benefits all. I remember a past supervisor offering the perspective that going to conferences is worth it even if you learn only one or two things. Reader’s can learn far more than just a couple of things by attending to this text. The authors have readers thinking big but they can also think small. What can I do to make the world better?

Michael Dalton